Standing in the Belgravia pop-up store for her new London-centric womenswear brand NRBY, Jo Hooper is looking back on some of the magical moments she has been part of in the history of British retail. She has revolutionised some of the biggest retailers on the high street, but now she is branching out on her own.
A one-woman powerhouse, Jo juggles the many hats of running your own business (not to mention being a mum of three boys) with apparent ease. And it’s this very lifestyle of flexible working that has inspired the NRBY collection. Designed for what she calls ‘one-mile-wear’, it’s all about pieces to get dressed in on days when you’re working from home, hanging out at your local coffee shop and racing around doing errands.
Leafing through the rails in the pop-up, she describes the fabric of a pair of easy-to-wear harem pants as “looking like denim but feeling like silk”. She notes that the loose-fitting dresses all have pockets (so important) and NRBY’s linen pieces are washed so that they are super soft.
Putting her little black book of industry contacts to good use, she has known the suppliers she has worked with to create the collection for years and they are all Ethical Trading Initiative members and Sedex approved. This ethos runs through the core of the brand as Jo tells us she wanted to create something lasting, something that’s not disposable. And these are pieces you’ll really want to wear (again and again). But what more could you expect from one of fashion’s most forward-thinking trailblazers?
To find out more about the new arrival to Endource, read our interview with Jo below…
Hi Jo, congratulations on the launch of NRBY! After many years shaping the womenswear offering for high street giants including John Lewis and Debenhams, what made you feel like now was the right time to go it alone?
I’d been thinking about launching this concept for a couple of years, searching for the perfect sweater, shirt, pants – in great colours... there’s so much grey in the world – I wanted beautiful loungewear in vibrant shades!
We love your tagline: ‘Clothing for Home or Nearby’. What inspired the concept?
The lives of real women, and how they’ve changed so much, even over the last couple of years. Working from home, the school run, both or neither - the desire for comfort. We call it “one-mile-wear” - you can wear it at home, and one mile from your door- running out for a pint of milk, a coffee ... but in truth this kind of clothing takes me on flights on holidays too.
The first collection is a capsule of 40 pieces. How do you see women wearing it? And what are your favourites?
It’s designed to work together, without being too 'matchy' – our tencel denim goes with everything, and our pink linen shirt is the right shade to work with our deeper pink and coral knits... it all depends on you... we don’t work on a 'what’s in fashion' basis, rather 'what’s your style?'.
As an industry expert, do you think the womenswear market and what women expect from the brands they buy from is changing?
Definitely – buy less, but buy better. We want clothes that we will wear everyday if we choose – the useful 3 inches of wardrobe space – as compared to the rest!
And finally, what would be your perfect way to spend a day hanging out in your local area?
If I’m feeling energetic, a Barrecore class, then I will deserve coffee and cake in the sunshine with friends, a walk on Wandsworth common, a little light shopping – a glass of vino in our local pub, supper cooked by my darling husband – basically it’s friends, friends, and family!